The holidays are the time of year when we all get together and share in our collective joy and try to wipe away the metaphorical eye boogers of the last year. We go to parties and attend dinners and meet online for Modern Warfare gameplay. Friends of old “like” our holiday-related updates on Facebook. And some of us (I’m not saying who, because she lives with me and she punches a lot harder than you think a girl would be able to) become fascinated by other people’s pictures of cats dressed up in holiday paraphernalia.
But, most importantly, the holidays are a time of giving and receiving gifts. Unless you celebrate Hanukkah, then it’s all incantations and moon dances (right? I’m not really sure). People spend money they probably don’t really have available on gifts for friends and family to show appreciation for their friendship and support – and for the gifts they are going to be given. This gift-giving happens all over the world – except in Africa (do they know it’s Christmas time at all?).
If you’re anything like me, then, besides having an unhealthy obsession with sports, pop culture and the Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit, you also wait until the last minute to buy your gifts in this time of giving. This usually results in buying people lesser quality gifts because the selection dries up and the urgency limits your resources. This also makes gifts a bit more expensive because you just bought something at Best Buy for $60 that you could have purchased online for $42. Sure, it’s just $18, but I’ve got a lot of nephews.
One of the problems I have is I’m very particular about what gifts I get for people. I know it sounds totally out of character for me – but I’m actually kind of a nice guy. (No, I’m not joking … screw you!) I want the gift I buy someone to show I put some thought into it. That’s why I hate gift cards. “Here’s a gift of money, but you can only spend it at this one store; so when you buy yourself something there, it’ll be like I am standing right beside you getting you that one thing at the store that isn’t as bad as some of the other stuff there.” No, thanks.
One weird phenomenon of the holiday gift-giving season is the White Elephant party. Some people call it “Dirty Christmas,” but I call it, “Jed gets a crappy gift again.” If you don’t know, at a White Elephant party, all the guests bring a gift with a particular dollar-value limit and the gifts are opened in a particular order, but instead of opening a new gift on your turn, you have the option of “stealing” someone else’s gift. It’s actually a clever concept and could be the source of quite a bit of fun.
However, people are lazy. And while I went to three different stores trying to pick the right gift that was a perfect balance of fun and practicality, most people just grab something at the grocery store and stick it in a bag on the way to the party. “Oh, Jed, you’re exaggerating. No one does that.” Oh, really? I brought a six-piece wine kit that’s contained in a replica wine bottle. What gift did I get at the party? Soup. F***ing soup. Someone actually took the time to buy some soup and stick it in a gift bag and put it under the tree. They could have saved themselves some more time by just passing gas in my face – or, even better, they could have just stayed at home.
They say it’s the thought that counts. But if the thought is “soup,” then you are an a-hole and I have already wished so many horrible things upon you that one of them is sure to happen – and I will laugh and dance around when it does.
What to get someone for a gift can be very complicated at this time of year or for birthdays or for a graduation or at that special time when your special someone is released from prison. Unless the recipient is a sports fan – then, it’s very simple. Just get them a gift that celebrates their favorite team, player or squadron. And with the vast array of clothing and memorabilia and nick-nacks, you can get a sports fan almost anything.
And that’s what I’m here to talk to you about. There are so many things you can get a sports fan, but there are a few things that you should stay away from entirely. These suggestions don’t really apply to kids – you can get them whatever you want; it doesn’t matter. They’re going to be ungrateful and then break it soon after anyway.
No jerseys. Buying a team jersey is a very personal experience. It’s like underwear. You don’t go around buying people underwear because you don’t know whether they like boxers or briefs or thongs (or maybe you do, you pervert). Jerseys are similar. Home jersey or road jersey? What player? Over-sized? Cheap replica or $180 pro-style?
If you have to get a jersey, for heaven’s sake, do not get one with the recipient’s name on the back. These are horrible. If you don’t believe me, you can ask the two jerseys with my name on them that I have hidden in the back of my closet. Personalized jerseys are where people cross over from “fan” to “fanatical lunatic.”
No autographs. Some people think it would be a cool idea to give a sports fan an item autographed by their favorite player. I can just see it now: “Hey, Steve, where did you get that autographed Joe Montana rookie card? Were you cleaning out your closet and then you came across your old football cards and you were about to throw them away, but you decided to keep that one card and then you stopped at a Sizzler for lunch and there was Joe Montana and you asked him to sign the card and he said, ‘I sure have aged,’ but you assured him he still looked great and then he paid for your meal?” “No, Christmas gift.”
See what I mean? Autographs are cool because you interacted with someone more famous than you and now you have a token by which to remember it. I’ll never forget the time I interacted with Boston Bruins hockey great Cam Neely (aka Sea Bass from “Dumb and Dumber”), when it was my turn in line, I said, “Here … and this.” And he said, “Okay,” and then signed the puck and photo I had presented. Magic! I still have that puck and photo!
Also now there’s the stigma of Derek Jeter signed baseballs. Apparently he’s been giving them out to his lady conquests as a token of their interaction. I have to assume the worst gift a guy could get from his lady is a signed ball from Derek Jeter. Of course, knowing the Yankees fans’ Jeter-lust, there’s probably a bunch of them that would be totally into that.
Posters, pictures, etc. Don’t get your sports fan something to hang on the wall. It’s more likely to end up at the back of a closet with the personalized jerseys. Most humans are picky about what items they want to showcase on their walls. Don’t mess this up. You’re not just buying that person a gift for their enjoyment, you’re subjecting everyone they know to it. I’m not going to buy you a Justin Bieber poster – I don’t care how cute you think she is – because I don’t ever want to have to look at that.
Fatheads also fall in this category. These are the life-size cutout posters of athletes. They may be okay for kids, but if an adult is okay with something like this on their wall, you’re going to want to peak in their freezer to see how many human heads they have stored up.
Ryan Braun. First there was alleged performance enhancing drugs. Now there’s alleged herpes. There are just way too many “allegeds” attached to this guy right now. If your special someone is a Ryan Braun fan, you might just want to get them a Brewers key chain and encourage them to stop by the free clinic for a check up on that burning sensation.
Well, those are the don’ts. As for the dos, that pretty much leaves everything else. T-shirts (anything and everything), caps (adjustable only – fitted is too hard to guess), sweatshirts (not jackets – too picky), footballs and basketballs (no baseballs or soccer balls – unless the soccer ball comes with a matching skirt), books (even if they don’t like to read that much – they’ll thank you later – unless they can’t read at all) and then there’s the always reliable gift of bobbleheads (you can get one of just about any favorite player in any sport – but stay away from Jeter’s – no way to know what he gives those out for).
Now you have a better idea what do here – and what not to do – to satisfy the sports fan in your life whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or just the Winter Solstice (yeah, that’s a real thing – where do you think the decorating of trees came from? Jesus never did that.)
Now, hurry up. You’ve only got a few days left. And if someone invites you to a White Elephant party and you’re thinking of being flippant and just grabbing any old thing at the supermarket because it’s so clever that you’re so aloof, then I’d encourage you to take that gift and shove it right up your …